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Pearl Jam, Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 and Liam Finn at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25 November 2009

God, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I went to a gig… I think my last one was Ryan Adams at the beginning of the year, and here we are in November already. The good news is, my lapse in attending gigs was broken by an absolute kicker of a night, watching Pearl Jam, Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 and Liam Finn perform at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane last night.

To be honest though, although I arrived there in plenty of time, by the time we managed to get to our seats Liam Finn‘s set was all but ending, so I can’t really say too much about that. I will say that what heard of his set was… intriguing to say the least. There was a rawness there that I certainly hadn’t heard in his recorded stuff before, so I think catching a live set of his in the future will be on the cards. It was either a beautiful cacophony, or an awful racket… I didn’t hear enough to make up my mind. Whatever it was, however, it’s definitely interested me in catching him live again.

The sun setting over QSAC Stadium as Liam Finn's set finished.

Following Liam’s set, Ben Harper came on with new(ish) band Relentless 7. I’ve seen Ben Harper live a couple of times before, but this was first time with the Relentless 7. Through no fault of their own – well, largely not their own – I have to say: I was disappointed. It wasn’t the quality of their performance whatsoever that brought a downer on their set, but rather that the sound quality for their set was the most substandard sound setup I have ever been witness to. QSAC Stadium itself is an open-air stadium, which is never easy to get the sound levels right for in itself – what with wind to take into account, etc – but regardless of the situation, I was immensely disappointed in the organisers/sound crew for not having a better go at this one. The result was that in between songs, when Ben was talking, he was all but completely inaudible, which completely ruined the flow of the set. I’m sure that those lucky few who managed to get standing room in the floor section were fine, but for those of us on the side stands, the tech crew totally let us down.

All in all, I don’t think it’s fair for me to write up on Ben’s set all that much, because of the sound problems. I will say that the set disappointed me – particularly, “Diamonds on the Inside” seemed lacklustre – but, again, it’s hard to tell how much of that was a lack of groove within the band itself, or the sound issues. The one high point of the set, for me at least, was actually the opening tune, “I Will Not Be Broken”. Now, I stand to be corrected here, but as far as I am aware, this is a new tune from the band, and one I really, really like.
Other standouts were a simply stunning rendition of “Faded”, and a kickass cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”.

I managed to get a few sound clips on the night, and I’ve embedded two mp3s from Ben’s set below. Please note, however, that the sound quality of my recorder is point blank terrible… there is distortion galore, levels all out of whack etcx; so I don’t include these as mp3s to listen to again and again, simply for those who are diehard fans and who want to get an idea of what the band sounded like.

Listen: Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 – I Will Not Be Broken (live at QSAC Stadium, 25/11/09)
Listen: Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 – Never Tear Us Apart INXS Cover (live at QSAC Stadium, 25/11/09)

Ben Harper & The Relentless 7, opening their set at QSAC Stadium in Brisbane

Ben Harper & The Relentless 7, live at QSAC Stadium in Brisbane

Following the Relentless 7, it was of course time for the main act, none other than Pearl Jam. Now, I’m about to commit music blogger heresy and openly state that, while I previously liked Pearl Jam, I’d never really seen the attraction as others have. To be honest, the major drawcard to the gig, for me, was Ben Harper. But, after last night, all that changed. Seeing them live, I finally understood the passion that the band instills in its fans. Point blank, Eddie and Co gave one of the most visceral, energetic and above all, honest performances that I’ve ever seen. And damned if I’m not like a little kid who hears his favourite band for the first time.

The band opened with an incendiary “Why Go”, and things only got better from there. Below, I’ve include a setlist for the night. Now, I had to leave during “Encore 2” due to transport times (which meant I missed “Jeremy”… bugger), so what I have in the setlist there is what I gathered from others at the show; but if anything’s incorrect, feel free to leave a note in the comments and I’ll update the post with correct info.

Pearl Jam Set list, live at QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25 November 2009

Why Go
Got Some
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
In Hiding
In My Tree
Save You
Even Flow
Amongst The Waves
Off He Goes
Not For You with Modern Girl snippet
Daughter with Another Brick In the Wall & Schools Out snippets
Unthought Known
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) (AC/DC cover)

The End
Just Breathe
Red Mosquito (with Ben Harper)
Indifference (with Ben Harper)
Gonna See My Friend
The Fixer
Rearview Mirror

Encore 2:
Throw Your Arms Around Me (Hunters & Collectors cover) (with Liam Finn)
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
Yellow Ledbetter

Highlights of the set, for me, were a beautiful “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town“, a haunting “Off He Goes“, and particularly the opening of the first encore, where Eddie came out just with an acoustic guitar, and launched into “The End“, and was progressively joined by the band for “Just Breathe“.

Again, I managed to catch a few clips on my recorder, but, again I must point out that these are more for the diehards to listen to, and that the distortion sucks something awful. But, if you’re after a glimpse of last night, here are a few…

Listen: Pearl Jam – Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (live, QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25/11/09)
Listen: Pearl Jam – Off He Goes (live, QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25/11/09)
Listen: Pearl Jam – Daughter & The Wall (live, QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25/11/09)
Listen: Pearl Jam – The End & Just Breathe (live, QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25/11/09)

Some pictures (thanks to my always wonderful sister, Cara):

The crowd at Pearl Jam, QSAC Stadium
Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam
Pearl Jam in Brisbane, 2009
Pearl Jam, Brisbane
Pearl Jam, Brisbane

So, the moral of the story? Pearl Jam have a new found fan in me… here’s to a long love affair.